Before your content can rank, it needs links. Google finds your posts and pages best when they’re linked to from somewhere on the web. Internal linking for SEO is important as it connects your content and gives Google an idea of the structure of your website. They can establish a hierarchy on your site, allowing you to give the most important pages and posts more link value than other, less valuable, pages. So using the right internal linking strategy can boost your SEO.
What are internal links?
An internal link is any link from one page to another page on your website. Both your visitors and search engines use links to find content on your website. They use links to navigate through your site and to find the content they want easily. Search engines also use links to navigate your site. They won’t find a page if there are no links to it.
There are several types of internal links. In addition to links on your homepage, menu, post feed, etc, you can also add links within your content. We call those contextual links. These links point your visitors to interesting and related content. Moreover, they allow search engines to find out what content on your site is related and to determine the value of that content. The more links a page receives, the more important it will seem to search engines. Therefore, good internal links are crucial to your SEO.
Internal links vs external links
Every website consists of internal and external links. Internal links connect pages and posts on your own website and external links connect your pages to other websites. In this post, we will focus on internal links and what they mean for SEO.
Why are internal links important to Google?
Internal linking is an important factor for Google and other search engines.
Google follows links to discover content on websites and to rank this content in the search results. If a post or page gets a lot of links this is a signal to Google that it’s an important or high-value article. This counts for internal as well as external links.
Internal linking is something you, as a website owner and your web management company control. With the right internal links, you’ll guide your visitors and Google to your most important pages.
Google crawls websites by following links, using a bot called Google bot. This bot arrives at the homepage of a website, starts to render the page and follows the first link. By following links Google can work out the relationship between the various pages, posts and other content. This way Google finds out which pages on your site cover similar subject matter.
In addition to understanding the relationship between content, Google divides link value between all links on a web page. Often, the homepage of a website has the greatest link value because it has the most links. That link value will be shared between all the links found on that homepage. The link value passed to the following page will be divided between the links on that page, and so on.
Therefore, your newest blog posts will get more link value if you link to them from the homepage, instead of only on the category page. And Google will find new posts quicker if they’re linked to from the homepage.
When you get the concept that links pass their link value on, you’ll understand that more links to a post mean more value. Because Google deems a page that gets lots of valuable links as more important, you’ll increase the chance of that page ranking.
Setting up an internal linking strategy
It’s crucial for your site’s SEO that you evaluate and improve internal linking strategy based on your keyword research on a regular basis. By adding the right internal links you make sure Google understands:
- the relevance of pages;
- the relationship between pages;
- and the value of pages.
To set up your internal linking strategy, there are several things to take into account.
How you go about it exactly, of course, depends on your site and your marketing goals, but the following steps are a good rule of thumb.
1. Determine the ideal structure for your site
We always advise website owners to imagine their website as a pyramid. On top of it is your homepage, below that there are some sections or categories, and further down there are individual posts and pages (possibly with subcategories in between). If you do it well, your website’s menu should reflect this structure.
2. Decide what your most important content is
The most important content on your website is usually your best and most complete content; it’s about the core of your business. It’s the content you want people to find when they’re searching for services or products that you specialise in.
Because you want to let Google know that this is your most essential content, you need to add many links to it. There are various spots from where you can link to your cornerstone content. Here, we’ll give the most common options, from your post’s copy to your navigation.
3. Add contextual links
When you’ve written various articles about a certain topic you should link them with each other. This will show Google – and users! – that those articles are topically related. You can link directly from sentences in your copy and/or add links at the end of your post.
Moreover, you want to show Google which of those articles is your cornerstone: your most complete article on this topic. To do so, you have to add a link to the cornerstone in all of the articles on this topic. And don’t forget to link back from the cornerstone to the individual posts.
4. Link hierarchical pages
If you have hierarchical pages on your website, link parent pages to its child pages and vice versa. Also, don’t forget to link sibling pages to each other. On a well-organised website these pages should be related and linking them like this will make perfect sense.
5. Consider adding a related post section
There are many plugins and modules that add complete related posts sections to your posts. If you use one, we recommend testing whether the related posts actually are related posts. If you’re not sure, linking to posts manually is probably best.
6. Add navigational links
Besides linking from topically-related posts and pages, it’s possible to make your content more authoritative by adding links to it from the homepage or the top navigation. You should do this with the posts and pages that are most important to your business. This will give these posts or pages a lot of link value and makes them stronger in Google’s eyes.
7. Consider adding links to popular or recent posts
The last option to mention is creating internal links to the most popular or newest posts on your website. Preferably create these sections in the sidebar or the footer of your website to have them appear on all pages and posts.
As link value passes to these most popular/recent posts from many different pages and posts they really get a boost. Besides that, the posts will be easier for visitors to access, which will increase traffic – and more traffic is a positive sign to Google.
Let Two Lizards’ SEO experts ensure your site gets highly ranked on page 1 of Google. We specialise in creating fully optimized, organically ranked websites for businesses in Surrey and Sussex. Please contact us online or call 01306 621001.
The content of this article is based on a blog by Yoast SEO for everyone